The Anatomy of a Grapevine

Monday, June 1st, 2009

I am the true Vine, my Father is the Vinedresser (John 15:1)

vineAny quick research into growing grapes reveals the amount of work involved into producing an abundant harvest. Grapes are a high maintenance plant that require much attention to keep away disease and bugs, but the most important part of producing grapes is pruning. Vines are allowed to grow from one strong shoot directly from the roots. Any other shoots that grow from the roots are clipped back. Off shoots from the main vine are tied to the trellis and those are the vines that will produce grapes on the arms. New canes or shoots can only be produced on one year old canes thus new canes must be produced each year. As well as producing fruit for this season the shoot develops buds for next season’s growth. The farmer must prune the shoots beginning in the dormant season (winter) that show signs of not producing fruit during the growing season.

Our Lord uses the cultivation of grapes to describe our relationship to him. There is only one strong vine attached to the roots that is Christ. There can be no other source of nourishment to grow vintage grapes.  The shoots that spring forth from the vine are us and the trellis that the shoots are tied to for support is the Church.

Relationship with God is not a solitary act. Recent statistics show that many people, especially young men and women are looking for a new model to relate to God. One young man recently blogged, “I no longer go to Church, although I still believe in God. I pray at home.” Isn’t this enough? I get the feeling that many Christian’s in America have lost (or never had) the understanding of an Eucharistic Life. Being a Christian is much more than admitting that there is a higher Power. It is more than prayer, or acts of mercy, or even forgiving others.

Is it acceptable to get up on Sunday morning and choose to give blood or take the family to see a wholesome (perhaps even Christian) movie rather than going to Church? Aren’t they interchangeable? They are both “good things” right?If we strive to live a moral life and to do good to others aren’t we living as a Christians? Is that what God wants from us? In examining the teaching of the grapevine we get a true perspective. Our Lord teaches us, “Abide in me. And I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.” (verse 4). Giving blood, or donating to good causes, and praying at home does not replace partaking in the life of Christ. Everything else is secondary. To abide in Christ is to be connected in Him, to be in communion with Him. We cannot bear fruit unless we are of the vine. We cannot bear fruit apart from it. The fruit is actually produced and nourished by the vine. Our abiding in Christ produces not only fruit but a healthy shoot for another harvest. We are to keep the Lord’s day sanctified because it is the day we were given a new life by the Cross. We are to go to Church on Sunday and partake of Him by the grace of the Holy Spirit because it is life-giving. We are to gather as God’s community on Sunday in the Eucharist because we cannot abide alone. For apart from Him we can do nothing.

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